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Protect your pets in extreme heat


When it is hot for you, it is even hotter for your furry friend. Dogs and cats do not sweat through their skin. Instead they cool themselves by panting or rapid breathing, which means animals must work extra hard to stay cool.

Too much heat can be extremely dangerous or even fatal for them. If your best friend has a shorter nose, like Persian cats and bulldogs, they are even more susceptible to heatstroke than breeds with longer noses.

Signs to watch for

If your dog or cat begins very rapid, noisy breathing, has trouble swallowing, and looks very distressed, they could be having a heatstroke. This is an emergency. Immediately get the animal out of the heat. Apply cold, wet towels to the back of the head. Place cold packs wrapped in towels or plain wet towels between the back legs and on the belly. Cool off your pet and then take them to the veterinarian immediately.

The best plan is to keep your dog and cat protected from the hot weather. Here are some pet safety reminders:

Give your pet extra water

Always make sure that your dog or cat has plenty of fresh water to drink. A bucket that holds a gallon or more of water will stay cool longer than water in a shallow pan. Some dogs consider ice cubes a treat, and you can add a few to the water bowl.

Offer your dog a wading pool

Dogs who love the water, enjoy walking through or even lying in a child’s pool with cool water.

Never leave your pet alone inside a car

If your pet cannot go inside at every stop with you, they are safer at home on hot days. Car interiors heat very quickly, even with the windows open. If it is 90 degrees out, temperatures can top 160 degrees faster than you can walk around the block. In fact, it’s against the law to leave an animal in a vehicle, if doing so endangers the health or well-being of the animal.

Walk your dog in the morning or evening

The intense heat of the afternoon can overwhelm you and your dog. Early morning and evening walks when it’s typically cooler outside will be more comfortable for you both.

Avoid hot ground surfaces

While walking your dog outdoors, play particular attention to the pavement, sidewalks or sand. Check the temperature with your hand, if it’s too hot to touch then it’s too hot for your dog’s paws.

Don’t leave your pet outdoors for a long time

If your dog has to be left outdoors for awhile, make sure they have plenty of access to shade such as trees, a covered patio or cool spot under the porch. Dark coated pets absorb heat. Lighter coated pets, especially white ones, are at higher risk for skin cancer and they are more susceptible to sunburn.

Care for your pet’s coat

Longer coated dogs and cats who are brushed regularly have natural insulation from the heat. However, if the coat has gotten matted, a summer clip will make your buddy much more comfortable. Remember, newly clipped animals can be sunburned.

Companion animals want to be with you. They will be safer and cooler inside with you, where they can spend their time doing what they do best: being your best friend.

Resource: L.A. Animal Services